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Black Friday is over……just in time for the Christmas rush – Can your IT handle it?

It isn’t just the shoppers pounding the high streets and malls wanting to make purchases on the run up to Christmas.

This festive shopping period extends to online retailers too. In fact, according to IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, there has been a massive swing in percentage of on-line shopping. The on-line Christmas shopping spend rose 12% to £24bn over the Christmas period in 2015 and is expected to rise even higher this year.

This brings a whole load of IT issues with it!

 

Online retailers need to consider high traffic spikes, overloaded systems, bottlenecks, slow connectivity and security, right through to logistics. If these issues aren’t considered, then they are liable to lose business, customer loyalty and even a degradation to their brand.

Let’s take on-line gaming as an example of an on-line business that seem to have mastered how to get it right! These companies rely on the likes of high profile sporting events to make lots of money. And these high profile sporting events will attract a MASSIVE amount of traffic to their website. They have to be prepared because if someone can’t place a bet, they will immediately go to someone else where they can place a bet. This is a no-no for on-line gaming companies as it is their bread and butter!

In our experience (and from reading in the news) the major issue for online retailers is ‘high traffic spikes’. Quite simply, this will cause bottlenecks and overloaded systems.

Think of the network as a motorway and a network bottleneck like a motorway in rush hour! You know what I’m talking about here, we’ve all been there. A journey that should take 15 minutes, could take over an hour in rush hour!

These bottlenecks can create data flow slowdowns, which can slow application performance, cause outages and make customers unhappy. The first and most critical technique in eliminating network bottlenecks is proactively monitoring bandwidth usage on critical network, server, or storage fabric interfaces. It allows you to take corrective action before issues arise.

Optimising and Prioritising Network traffic keeps your critical data moving. Application orchestration/optimisation directs internal infrastructure to prioritise on those services that are critical at the expense of less critical ones.

So the combination of both means, say, a customer making an online purchase gets the best service that the retailer can deliver at the expense (if necessary) of less time sensitive operations.

Bursting onto Cloud is another way of temporarily increasing an online retailer’s resources to cope with increased traffic. Dominos sees something like a 5 fold increase in traffic on 2 for Tuesday and Fridays over the other weekdays. Rather than investing in 5x the infrastructure to cope with 2 out of 7 days it bursts onto Cloud on those days on a pay as you use basis. So infrastructure that has the ability to do this can be a very efficient way of dealing with peaks.

Contact centres will also be hugely impacted, not just on the lead up to Christmas like the on-line retailers but their issues will go on much longer, maybe up to a month after Christmas they get hit from all sides, email, phone, social media and more!  Questions about items, returns, deliveries, lack of deliveries, stock quantities, you name it, it’s being asked – even store opening times!

Now, imagine the IT impact, especially if it all went wrong……

The challenge for contact centres is dealing with the fallout from sales. Christmas spending means several days of increased activity for the agents as queries continue to come in from customers.

Make sure your agents can face future sales with confidence. You need to work out how to keep the queues down (as much as you can, anyway) over the course of several days.

Your priority should be to aim for a high first-contact-resolution rate. The more your customers call back with questions, the less likely they are to shop with you again. And it leaves other customers waiting in the queue for longer.

Keep those repeat calls down by moving calls quickly between teams — matching customers with the right person to answer their questions. This makes the handling of each call more efficient, which is vital when dealing with the contact volumes of the Christmas period.

Accurately predicting the right projected contact volumes means you can schedule resources to meet demand. Should you be looking at additional or alternative channels to help customers with their purchases and queries?

If you would like to find out more about customer contact technologies that can help smooth customer volume spikes during peak times, then please get in touch with us today.

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